At the helm of a man’s world: A new generation of women Telugu directors

In the world of films, largely driven by men’s needs, these young emerging breed of women directors are determined to alter the contours of Telugu cinema.

Published: 08th March 2018 12:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th March 2018 07:55 AM   |  A+A-

A still from Manjula Ghattamaneni's 'Manasuku Nachindi' | YouTube

Express News Service

Telugu cinema has seen the meteoric rise of several women directors who made the cut with some meaningful cinema. Directors like Vijaya Nirmala, B Jaya and Nandini Reddy aced in the craft of filmmaking and took charge of entertaining the audience with their creative efforts. At a time when women in showbiz couldn’t think beyond becoming an actress, here’s a list of a new generation of women directors who have taken the mantle to claim their place behind the camera, fighting against several odds and showing promising signs of bringing change in the showbiz…

The world needs women

My journey in the tinsel town was never a smooth ride but my work has made it beautiful and enjoyable. I wasn’t discouraged for being a woman and my father (Krishna), my brother (Mahesh Babu) and my husband (Sanjay Swaroop) were really happy and supported my decision to direct a film. They all took me seriously and they treated me with utmost regard and respect. If you believe in something and express it, people can also feel it.

Manjula Ghattamaneni, Director

On the sets of Manasuku Nachindi, I called the shots and we worked as a unit. I didn’t see anything challenging or being sidelined by anyone. When we are on board and a person agrees to do a project, after certain kind of commitment, we work wholeheartedly and look up to the director because he/she has a vision. I really don’t know if my family background or my image helped me to have a smooth journey. No matter who you are, if you know your work and have confidence, I don’t think people will take you for granted. You should support yourself and it’s an infectious trend.

Today everything is changing…the world needs women. In 2018 and beyond, women are going to make a strong mark in everything. Women are realising how much creativity and capability they have. There are wonderful men who always support and encourage them. The only thing I had a problem was with acting. That was the only factor which really made me feel like a lost opportunity. Our culture is different. So no complaints. I’m a strong woman and I get it from my father.

Our actions are watched carefully

Whether it’s a man or a woman, a director is a director and there is no gender discrimination in this craft. Women are better at multitasking as they manage the family, do their household chores and other work. Directing a film is a tough job and one should have the command to say action and cut. Managing people is quite challenging and I have learnt it over the years. For Rangula Ratnam, I had worked round the clock as about 75 % of it was shot at night.

So, it’s important to strike a balance between personal and professional work as our actions are watched carefully. We make a film without thinking about the result. It’s like conceiving a baby. I don’t get bogged down by the criticism and I will learn from my mistakes. I will try and introspect what went wrong. My strength has always been emotions and comedy. I’m happy to have catered to a section of the audience. If your first movie is a blockbuster and everyone starts extolling you to skies, you won’t know ground reality.

Criticism motivates me and if you are not open to it, then you don’t belong here (industry). I think I’ve succeeded as a director as I remember one person comparing me to legendary director Vijaya Nirmala garu. I’m happy that people have acknowledged my efforts.

Cinema is my passion

I’ve come from a poor family. I have assisted directors like Krishna Vamsi, Sekhar Kammula and Teja among others. I’m stubborn by nature and never faced any issue whatsoever. I was raised with values and I never want to lose them at any cost. I’m passionate about films and can never think about anything beyond cinema. 

I’m set to make my directorial debut under Sitara Entertainments. Personally, I haven’t faced any gender politics and the producers have really been encouraging. Unfortunately, women directors as a class are not faring well today. One of us has to turn the tide, deliver a big hit and then, we may see a change in the trend. Like any other profession, I faced some initial struggle, but that’s alright as one has to learn to deal with it.

Proud to be on par with men

Sanjana Reddy, Director

I’m from Tekkali and was a gold medalist in MSC (Mathematics). I started off as a journalist and it was then my perception towards life has changed. I have gained confidence in my profession and eventually, I also assisted director Ram Gopal Varma before turning a director with Raju Gadu. Initially, I was shocked as some people discouraged me due to their misconceptions about women. After 1.5 years of struggle, I have signed a film for AK Entertainments.

As a director, I always had a blueprint of how to execute things and remained focused on budget management. It was then that people used to look at me strangely. But, I never felt bad. As Raju Gadu had many senior actors and technicians, it was initially tough for me to get a hang of a situation due to some ‘star’ egos. But after seeing my work for two-three days, they were all convinced and everything fell into place. When you start working on a film, the team sees you as a director and it’s as simple as that. As for remuneration, I’m proud to be on par with my male counterparts.

— Murali Krishna CH

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